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Motor Oil Quality Evolves with Engine Technology

HE HISTORY OF LUBRICATION can be traced back as far as the very beginning of transportation. Until the 19th century, lubricants were primarily composed of animal fats and vegetable oils, but a new means of lubrication and a whole new industry were born when the first crew successfully drilled for oil in 1859.

Early on, viscosity was identified as one of the most important characteristics of a motor oil, and oils were divided into light, medium and heavy viscosity classes. As soon as instruments capable of measuring viscosity were introduced, the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) developed a complete viscosity classification system, which included 11 different viscosity grades. Viscosity modifiers allowed manufacturers to begin developing multi-grade oils in 1945.

Engine technology has improved dramatically over the years, increasing the protection and performance required of motor oils. In order to meet public demand for vehicles with greater fuel economy during the oil embargo of the 1970s, automobile manufacturers produced smaller, lighter cars powered by smaller and more efficient engines. When fuel injection became common on gasoline-fueled engines, it placed even greater demand on the vehicle’s engine oil as it was required to flow and reach critical components as quickly as possible.

In today’s world, high fuel prices and environmental concerns have driven up demand for high-performance, fuel efficient, environmentally-friendly vehicles. To meet this demand, vehicle manufacturers have produced more aerodynamic cars with reduced air flow through the engine. Although these vehicles are more fuel efficient, they exhibit higher engine operating temperatures than earlier automobiles, putting even greater stresses on the engine oil in the areas of oxidation stability, deposit prevention and wear protection.

Established in 1970, the API Engine Service Classification System (ESCS) was designed to classify oils according to their performance characteristics and type of service. In 1993, the API Engine Oil Licensing and Certification System (EOLCS) was launched, a voluntary program which allows marketers who meet the minimum performance requirements to mark their oil containers with the API certification marks. API service categories for gasoline engines are comprised of two letters. The first letter is “S” for “service,” and the second letter is assigned alphabetically according to order of development. Thus, the first service category of “SA” is the earliest, while the latest is “SM.” Because each new service category exceeds the performance requirements of the previous category, oils meeting the current API specification are suitable for use in all vehicles calling for an older specification.

The introduction of AMSOIL synthetic motor oil in 1972 set all-new standards for motor oil quality and performance, becoming the first 100 percent synthetic based motor oil to pass American Petroleum Institute (API) service requirements. AMSOIL continues to lead the way in the synthetic market, offering motorists the ultimate in wear protection, all-temperature performance, maximum fuel efficiency and extended drain intervals.

API Engine Oil Service Category Chart for Gasoline Engines
Category Status Service
SM Current For all automotive engines currently in use. Introduced in 2004, SM oils are designed to provide improved oxidation resistance, improved deposit protection, better wear protection, and better low-temperature performance over the life of the oil. Some SM oils may also meet the latest ILSAC specification and/or qualify as Energy Conserving.
SL Current For 2004 and older automotive engines
SJ Current For 2001 and older automotive engines.
SH Obsolete For 1996 and older engines.
SG Obsolete For 1993 and older engines.
SF Obsolete For 1988 and older engines.
SE Obsolete CAUTION: Not suitable for use in gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1979.
SD Obsolete CAUTION: Not suitable for use in gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1971. Use in more modern engines may cause unsatisfactory performance or equipment harm.
SC Obsolete CAUTION: Not suitable for use in gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1967. Use in more modern engines may cause unsatisfactory performance or equipment harm.
SB Obsolete CAUTION: Not suitable for use in gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1951. Use in more modern engines may cause unsatisfactory performance or equipment harm.
SA Obsolete CAUTION: Contains no additives. Not suitable for use in gasoline-powered automotive engines built after 1930. Use in more modern engines may cause unsatisfactory performance or equipment harm.
Source: www.api.org
 
 
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